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B Vitamins: How to Get Them in a Vegan Diet


You’ve likely heard how important Vitamin B12 is for healthy nerve function and a healthy metabolism, but what about the other B vitamins? Vitamin B1 (thiamin), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (niacin), Vitamin B5 (pantothenic Acid), Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), Vitamin B7 (biotin), Vitamin B9 (folate), and Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) are all critical for a healthy body, including everything from metabolism and energy, to nerve function, mental focus, and for healthy digestion.

Most omnivores rely on animal products for their B vitamins, since B vitamins are found abundantly in animal foods like dairy, chicken, fish, turkey, eggs, pork, and red meat. However, I always say to turn to plants first for everything, including where you get your B vitamins.

Just like you don’t have to eat animal foods to get enough protein, you also don’t have to eat them to get your Bs either. Here are some awesome sources of B vitamins found abundantly in a vegan diet if you don’t want to opt for a supplement:

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)

Functions: converts food to energy, maintains healthy hair, nails, and skin, aids in mental focus and brain function

Sources: baker’s yeast (active yeast), nutritional yeast (nonactive yeast), coriander, pine nuts, Jerusalem artichokes, hibiscus tea, watermelon, whole grains, acorn squash, soymilk, soybeans, rice bran, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts (or butter), tahini, sesame seeds, spirulina, green peas, most beans, asparagus

Try this delicious Indian dish with mushroom and peas to get a great dose of Vitamin B1.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Functions: converts food to energy, maintains healthy hair, nails, and skin, aids in mental focus and brain function

Sources: cereal grasses, whole grains, almonds, sesame seeds, spinach, fortified soy milk, spirulina, mushrooms, beet greens, quinoa, buckwheat, prunes

This amazing raw vegan chocolate mousse is a great way to indulge and get a nice amount of Vitamin B2.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Functions: converts food to energy, maintains healthy hair, nails, and skin, aids in mental focus and brain function

Sources:  baker’s yeast (active yeast), nutritional yeast (nonactive yeast), coffee, chili powder, spirulina, peanuts, peanut butter, rice bran, mushrooms, barley, durian fruit, potatoes, tomatoes, millet, chia, whole grains, wild rice, buckwheat, green peas, avocados, sunflower seeds, tahini

Here’s a delicious raw pea and avocado green soup for a nice dose of Vitamin B3.

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

Functions: converts food to energy, maintains healthy hair, nails, and skin, aids in mental focus and brain function

Sources: baker’s yeast (active yeast), nutritional yeast (nonactive yeast), paprika, mushrooms, sunflower seeds (and sunbutter), whole grains, broccoli, mushrooms, avocados, tomatoes, soy milk, rice bran, sweet potatoes

Here’s a dish that combines tempeh, quinoa, and nutritional yeast to give you a nice dose of Vitamin B5.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Functions: aids in maintaining homeostasis, prevents anxiety by helping the amino acid tryptophan convert to niacin and serotonin for healthy nerve function and also helps ensure a healthy sleep cycle, appetite, and mood,  red blood cell production, immune function

Sources: all soy products (choose non-GMO), bananas, watermelon, peanut butter, almonds, sweet potatoes, green peas, avocados, hemp seeds, spirulina, chia seeds, beans, rice bran, chickpeas, prunes, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, pineapple, plantains, hearts of palm, artichokes, water chesnuts, all squash and pumpkin, Brussels sprouts, green beans, pistachios, figs, nutritional yeast, baker’s yeast (active yeast), garlic, sage, peppers, kale, collards

Make these yummy sweet potato and kale patties for a great dose of Vitamin B6.

Vitamin B7 (Biotin)

Functions: converts food to energy, helps reduce blood sugar by synthesizing glucose, helps make and break down fatty acids, needed for healthy hair, skin, and nails

Sources: almonds, chia, peanuts, sweet potatoes, peanut butter, peanuts, onions, oats, tomatoes, carrots, walnuts

Make a batch of these chunky vegan peanut butter cookies to get a delicious dose of biotin for dessert!

Vitamin B9 (Folate)

Functions: merges with Vitamin B12 and Vitamin C to utilize proteins and is essential for healthy brain development and for healthy red blood cell formation, essential for pregnant women to get enough of

Sources: spinach, beans, lentils, asparagus, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, avocados, mangoes, oranges, most whole grains, nutritional yeast (nonactive yeast), baker’s yeast (active yeast), basil, soy products, peanuts, artichokes, cantaloupe, walnuts, flax, sesame, cauliflower, tahini, sunflower seeds, peas, okra, celery, hazelnuts, mint, leeks, chesnuts

Folate is plentiful in these amazing vegan stuffed mushrooms that make the perfect appetizer or light lunch.

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Functions: red blood cell production,  needed for optimal brain function to prevent depression and mania, aids in digestion, improves iron uptake, critical for all aspects of health

Sources: soy products, fortified cereals (choose an organic, non-GMO brand), fortified almond milk (brands vary), fortified coconut milk (brands vary), some vegan protein powders, nutritional yeast (one of the best), spirulina (best source)

This smoothie with spirulina is a great way to get a full day’s worth of Vitamin B12 that you can enjoy for a nice breakfast or an afternooon snack.

As you can see, you can usually obtain all the B vitamins you need from vegan foods alone. You should take specific caution to take a Vitamin B12 supplement if you do not take one already, or you don’t consume at least one teaspoon or spirulina per day or at least 1-2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast per day. Both those sources in the specified amounts provide over 100% of the daily values. In terms of the other vitamins, it’s quite easy to get enough through your diet or you can simply take a vegan B complex supplement.

Image source: Jennifer/Flickr

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0 comments on “B Vitamins: How to Get Them in a Vegan Diet”

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5 Months Ago


Spirulina is not a reliable source of b12. It may contain b12 analogs, and it is sometimes contaminated with a neurotoxin. And Dr. Mercola is not a good source of information.

2 Years Ago

Hi!, I have a question about spirulina. In another article (not from One Green Planet) I read about the vitamine B12 in the spirulina. It said that in the spirulina we find the inactive B12, and it will block the absortion of the active B12. What do you think?
Here is the article.

2 Years Ago

You can NOT get B12 from spirulina. It is NOT a source of B12 let alone \'the best source\'.

2 Years Ago

Another great way to get B vitamins is with supplements. Many are vegan and some of the better ones don\'t have any preservatives. Diet is definitely the way to go however eating right all the time can be a challenge in the busy lifestyles we live with.

2 Years Ago

The meal in the plate looks delicious. I did not know that coffee was a source of vitamin B3.

Generally speaking, weight loss should not mean having to eat food that a person hates or having to go through extreme workouts. For anyone who is tired of depressing diets, you may want to check this page out: http://9nl.us/qdc0

You may find discussed a collection of recipes that are not about unattractive weight loss meals.

Richard Wiede
25 Feb 2017

Coffee (Caffeine) also depletes B3 (Niacin)

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